All Four Stars – A Book Review

All Four Stars – A Book Review

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Here’s a scrumptiously wonderful book every tween is going to love. All Four Stars is the story of Gladys Gatsby, an eleven-year-old who is passionate about cooking. Her parents, on the other hand, are not. They are both working and don’t have the time or inclination to cook. The family lives on terrible takeaways.

However, Gladys cooks up complicated delicacies in secret, when her parents are away at work. All is well until one day when her parents walk in just as she accidentally sets fire to the kitchen curtains while making Creme Brûlée. As a result of that singularly bad piece of luck, she’s banned from further cooking experiments and her allowance is taken away.

Then, through a quirk of fate, she lands an assignment as a food critic in a frontline newspaper. The catch is – getting to that restaurant which is a train-ride away from the suburb where Gladys lives. Confiding in her parents and asking for help is out of the question. So how does she do it?

This is a story delicious enough to sate the most demanding of gourmands.

It’s a perfect read-aloud book
Each night after dinner, we’d sit with this one, the children and I, reading it aloud. The descriptions of food made H hungry while N started dreaming of a career as a food critic.

What I liked
The descriptions of food were absolutely delectable. The good ones (that she had at Parm’s house or out at restaurants) were mouth-watering but it’s the bad ones that H and N enjoyed most because they were hilariously funny.

I loved that Gladys sampled and enjoyed all kinds of food – African, Malaysian and Indian too. She has an Indian friend and the rather foreign descriptions of familiar Indian foods like chhole and raita and palak paneer had the children completely thrilled.

If you’ve read any of my earlier reviews you’ll know I love a book with great side-characters. All Four Stars had many of them – Sandy, Gladys’ friend and neighbour, Parm, her Indian friend, Charissa the most popular girl at school, the kind Mr Eng who runs a cosy grocery and patisserie and Mrs Anderson, Sandy’s adorable mom. Although some of them are rather stereotypical they all manage to do something to redeem themselves, to break the stereotype. That, I was grateful for.

There are bits on friendship – on making and keeping friends – on shared secrets and making plans which the children completely loved.

If I have one complaint it would be that the author didn’t do justice to the parents. They come across as uni-dimensional, too taken up with their work, barely bothered about their daughter and rather unkind. They did get better towards the end of the book, though, so that was something.

We talked about
Whether the punishment Gladys got was fair/unfair.
Could Gladys have done things differently? Perhaps, taken the help of other sympathetic adults.

What we did
– We read up all kinds of cuisines that Gladys talks of.
– We pored (and salivated) endlessly over food pictures.
– We made up a game of trying to describe a food to someone who had never known Indian cuisine.
– And we tried baking.

This book came to us through Enchantico – a delightful book-activity box we subscribed to. Read my review of the box here. It came with a cookie recipe, premixed flour as well as cookie cutters.

With all that help we had to try our hand at baking. The first batch came out near perfect. But then we got caught up in something and ended up burning down the next one and had to rush around dousing the flames in the oven.

So you see, there really is never any guarantee with cookies but the book – that’s a sure shot winner.


Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

30 Replies to “All Four Stars – A Book Review”

  1. Oh, I loved your delicious review of this book, Tulika. My kid loves any book which has kids as the main character. I am sure that he would love this one too. Thanks for sharing, Tulika.

    1. Mine too. Which is why they loved this one – the protagonist is an 11 year old girl. There’s a whole wealth of stories available these days of young readers for young readers.

    1. Thanks Shalini. The reactions are what tell whether they’ve really liked a book. It’s good to extend the book to an activity I find. It makes the story that much more fun.

  2. That’s a lovely review, seems like an interesting book. Will get it to read it along with my kidfos

  3. I was chuckling at your descriptions. This really sounds like a fun read and as both the kids love anything to do with cooking, I am sure they will enjoy reading this one. Thanks for the review, Tulika.

  4. I would probably burn down the oven with or without the book 😉

    But what an absolutely delightful book this sounds like! Must get it for Gy. I confess I am a tad worried about the fact that she will ask me to bake items! Must gift with the forewarning that no such thing will be entertained.

    1. We’re pretty similar when it comes to cooking. But Gy will love the book I’m sure. H and N were longing to write to the author for a sequel and then we discovered there already was one. N found it in her school library and she’s reading it now.

  5. Oh this is such a yummy review Tulika! I am reading this late at night and am already craving a midnight snack 🙂 This sure sounds like an interesting read for my Lo. I guess, it’s time to get my hands on this one. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Hey, that sounds like a fab book! My nephew, who has decided (at 8 years of age) that he is going to be a chef when he grows up, will definitely enjoy it! Thanks for the review, Tulika!

  7. That sounds like a sweet book. So glad you could get it for H and N. Loved the storyline. Isn’t it good that the children are getting exposure to the fact that they could have different interests than their parents? Super!

  8. Tulika, though you haven’t described the recipes but still I am ravenous after reading your book review 🙂 I could imagine you with the twins, reading aloud and them giggling at the fun parts, God bless the young readers 🙂 My kids are all grown up and I miss reading to them when they were little. Enjoy the precious time you have with your kids before they are all big and busy.

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